3 UMSL alumni part of St. Louis Business Journal 40 Under 40 class of 2019
Growing up, Karen Englert felt a strong affinity for the St. Louis region, even though she lived nearly 300 miles away in Memphis, Tennessee.
Her brother was a huge Cardinals fan and she had enjoyed visits to the area so, when the University of Missouri–St. Louis offered her a competitive scholarship package, Englert took the opportunity to move away from home.
She’s glad she did.
“I really enjoyed my time at UMSL,” said Englert, who graduated with a BS in education in 2004. “I was very involved with a sorority, Delta Zeta. I was the president while I was there, and that was a great group of women that provided me with that external family when I didn’t have any family here. It really allowed me to get involved with other aspects of the college.”
Now the government relations director at the St. Louis-based Missouri branch of the American Heart Association, Englert is being recognized for her impact on the community as a member of the 2019 St. Louis Business Journal 40 Under 40 class.
Englert; Shannon Favazza (MBA 2005), a director in firm analytics at Edward Jones; and Christopher Lehmuth (BS in management information systems 2003), Express Scripts’ director of advanced market analytics, make up the contingent of UMSL alumni on this year’s list.
The 40 Under 40 class will be honored at an awards dinner Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
“I knew there were many people that were nominated. I was surprised to be selected but very thankful,” Favazza said. “It seems like a good community of people.”
Favazza started at Edward Jones in April 2006, just five months after she earned her MBA from UMSL. She went back to school because she was working as an accountant and wanted to diversify her business education to set herself up for different types of job opportunities.
She wanted to work at Edward Jones because of its philanthropic reach in the St. Louis community. She wanted to get an UMSL MBA because of the success stories she had seen from its graduates.
“I increased my understanding of business concepts and strategy at UMSL,” Favazza said. “I met other professionals in the area in the program, which expended my professional network. One of the things I valued the most was the flexibility of the program when I needed it. I became pregnant with my first child when I was finishing, and the professors were very flexible with me, which allowed me to complete the program before the baby was born. In addition, I was working full time in public accounting while I attended UMSL. The program allowed me the flexibility I needed with a demanding work schedule to balance.”
Englert came from a family of educators and always knew that was what she wanted to study, so she got her degree in special education from UMSL and worked for nine years as a classroom teacher.
When it came time for a career change, she chose one with a great deal of personal resonance. Englert, who was diagnosed with heart disease in her early 20s, started volunteering with the American Heart Association toward the end of her time teaching.
She made volunteering into a full-time vocation and, when the organization was hiring for a new government relations director position in 2016, Englert got the job. Now she splits her time between St. Louis, the state capitol in Jefferson City and communities around Missouri – with the occasional jaunt to Washington, D.C., thrown in. She works to advance policies that improve public health when it comes to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
“I have been personally impacted by heart disease, and I think my journey with that has helped me work with other people to be empathetic to the issues they’re going through as well,” Englert said. “It also gives me a lot of drive and purpose for helping people. Heart disease and stroke don’t discriminate based on your age, background or anything else. I just feel that it’s a huge honor that I’ve been able to do that work over these years.”
Favazza, too, has put her passion to work at her profession, partnering with Edward Jones and her colleagues to put on a yearly fundraiser for Almost Home, a nonprofit that empowers young mothers to become self-sufficient and create a better future for themselves and their children. She began working with the organization in 2010 when she planned a donation drive that collected $2,000 worth of baby items.
The annual event has raised more than $200,000 over nine years, including more than $66,000 last August.
“I was struck by the work they were doing and the immense need the organization had,” Favazza said. “When I first visited Almost Home, I was pregnant with my third child, and I met these young mothers at the agency and connected with them as a young mother myself. I wanted to do anything I could to help Almost Home meet their needs. It’s been a rewarding experience to serve Almost Home and grow the shower with the team of volunteers and donors.”
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